Gov’t set to act on plastic waste

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Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said plastic waste was a concern in Cambodia. Photo supplied

The government, civil societies and relevant partners have jointly committed to acting on the plastic waste crisis that is adversely affecting the environment, wildlife and public health.

The joint commitment was made on Tuesday during the “Action Against Plastic Waste in Cambodia” forum in the capital, which was attended by more than 100 participants.

UN Development Programme (UNDP) country economist Richard Marshall said worldwide plastic usage had so far reached 8.3 billion tonnes, equivalent to the weight of more than one billion elephants.

According to a forecast, without timely intervention, plastic waste could reach 34 billion tonnes by 2050.

“We live in a world that consists of plastics and in our lifetime, we [will] encounter problems [from] spending more on it. These problems are not easily solved, while it takes hundreds of years for [plastics] to disintegrate,” Marshall said.

He said that every year some eight million tonnes of plastic waste flowed into the sea through major rivers, the Mekong River included. So only changes in the attitude of each person against using plastics can prevent the increase in its usage, he said.

Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said at the forum that plastic waste was a concern in Cambodia, citing that the Kingdom had seen a sharp increase in its use.

The living habits of people, food packaging and the general lack of awareness in proper waste disposal have contributed to this increase, he said. Reducing the public’s daily plastic usage, he said, could solve this problem.

“[The plastic waste crisis] has seriously harmed biodiversity, sea life and natural resources. It also poses risks to public wellbeing. Asean countries have acknowledged the need to take joint action against plastic waste [pollution]. Cambodia is also firmly committed to this,” he stressed.

Pheaktra maintained that Cambodia had taken preventive measures against the crisis by stopping plastic waste from being imported into the country for recycling.

Additionally, the ministry continued to spread awareness on the dire effects of plastic waste pollution and how to properly dispose of plastics.

Last year, a total of 1,709,379 tonnes of solid waste was disposed at the dumpsite, an increase of more than 200,000 tonnes or about 13.68 per cent from 2017.

Additionally, according to the ministry, Cambodia produces more than four million tonnes of waste a year, of which some 20 per cent is plastic. Phnom Penh produces most of the waste, accounting for some 3,000 tonnes each day.